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Home > The Billionaire's Salvation ~ Max(13)

The Billionaire's Salvation ~ Max(13)
Author: J.S. Scott

Max rose from his chair and scooped her up, sitting back down in her chair with her cradled in his lap. “Hey, don’t cry. You don’t know what your reason was or what happened. Don’t blame yourself. I survived. You’re here now. That’s all that matters to me.”

Opening her eyes, the tears falling down her cheeks, she asked him, “Why are you still wearing your ring? You must have given up hope, thought I was dead.” She lifted his hand, running a finger over the platinum band and feeling lost without her own wedding ring. Sure…it was just an object, but it was a symbol of her love for Max, and she missed the heavy weight on her finger. Her wedding day had been the happiest day of her life, and the loss of her ring nearly killed her.

Spearing his hand into her hair, he tilted her head back as he told her roughly, “I never gave up hope. Right after you disappeared, I made a promise to you that I’d never give up. I couldn’t. In my heart, I never accepted that you were dead. I guess I thought that if you really were, I would feel it.”

A sob escaped Mia’s lips as she looked at Max’s earnest, fierce expression.

Why? What possible reason could I have had to put him through this?

She could remember their life together up until a week or so before she’d disappeared. Granted, they had both been hiding, afraid to reveal some parts of themselves. But they had loved each other, and there had never, not once, been any thoughts of betraying or leaving Max for any reason.

Clutching at his shirt, fisting handfuls of it as she cried, she managed to tell him in an anguished voice, “I want to remember. I have to know why.”

Max grasped both of her wrists and wrapped them around his neck. His actions were gentle, but his voice was stern. “Stop it, Mia. Stop doing this to yourself. You’ll remember and everything will be fine.”

She shuddered as the fight left her body, her emotions spent, her head dropping onto his broad shoulder. Her mouth was close to the bare skin of his neck and she inhaled deeply, letting the masculine, sexy musk of him surround her. At the moment, she was safe in Max’s arms. Unfortunately, for some reason, she didn’t completely share his optimism. Some warning, some niggling sixth sense was telling her that even though she needed to remember, things wouldn’t be all right. Something was wrong. Horribly wrong. She just hoped that when the hole in her memory was filled, the knowledge wouldn’t destroy them both.

Two women in the same body. All she could hope for now was to figure out who she really was, and which one was the real Mia.

Chapter 4

Mia stopped her descent down the elegant staircase of her home, a towel and blanket in her hand, to listen to the powerful music coming from their grand piano. Although she identified the skilled fingers of Max immediately, the violence of the music grabbed hold of her, halting her progress down the stairs just to listen.

Max had always been an accomplished pianist, sometimes playing the works of the Masters, but occasionally working on a composition of his own. This one was definitely nothing she recognized, and she knew instinctively it was his own work. The melody went from hauntingly, achingly beautiful, and then transforming into a violent crescendo, building until nearly her entire body was trembling from the intensity of the music. Sitting, her ass hit one of the steps; her hand grasped one of the wooden balusters and she rested her head against the oak banister, tears filling her eyes as her husband poured his soul into his music. Mia could feel every emotion: love, frustration, loneliness, hopelessness, desperation. They all mixed and swirled, wringing the same emotions from her heart that he was feeling with his music.

Tucker plopped down next to her, resting his head in her lap. Mia stroked him absently, loving the feel of her canine companion. “Something’s not right, Tucker,” she whispered, wishing the dog could talk. Tucker had always had a strange instinct, as though he knew when something was wrong. He was trying to comfort her now, and she rubbed his belly, feeling better just because he was her comrade. “Has he been playing like this while I was gone?” she asked the dog softly, smiling as Tucker gave her a doggy look of understanding.

Max and Tucker had bonded, and although her dog still came to her for his daily dose of affection, he seemed to be loyal to Max now too. Rolling his pudgy body back into sitting position, the canine gave her a questioning look.

“Go to him,” she urged the dog, knowing Tucker was torn between her and Max, both of them confused and in need of his company.

With a final doggie lick to her hand, Tucker waddled down the stairs and toward the music room. Mia knew from watching her man and her dog together that Tucker would plop down at Max’s feet, not expecting a massive amount of affection from Max. But Tucker seemed content just to share space with the man who had fed, watered, and cared for him for the last few years.

The piece stopped with a final discordant note, the silence followed by fingers toying with the keys. Mia took a deep breath and released it, stunned by the volatile composition. Max usually played with consummate skill, making a piano sing, but she’d never felt so much emotion pulsating through his music.

Suddenly, she realized she’d never really done much else except scratch the surface of Max’s emotions. He was always so controlled and sensible in every aspect of his life. She’d never looked deeper, afraid that she wouldn’t see what she so desperately needed to find.

She stood and made her way to the French doors off the dining room, slipping out just as Max started playing Mozart, his playing controlled again, and absolutely perfect.

She sighed as the warm, humid air hit her scantily-clad body. She’d dug up an old bikini and donned it, throwing on one of Max’s t-shirts over the top. The water was beckoning, and she took the wooden stairs to the beach two at a time, eager to feel the water caressing her skin, turning on the porch light as she went. It was dark, but between the moon, stars, and the dim light from the porch, her favorite spot in the world was transformed into a dimly lit paradise. Spreading the blanket, she breathed in the sea air. She’d wanted to ask Max to come with her, but they had separated after dinner. He’d gone to his music room and she’d gone upstairs to do another search for her wedding ring—an unsuccessful endeavor that had left her depressed and confused. Had it been stolen, taken away from her? There was no other way anyone would have gotten it off her finger. She’d needed to relax, to try to forget for just a little while how much her life had changed and deal with the huge hole in her existence.

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